Deb Lazar/The Commons
Judge J. Garvan Murtha presiding over last month’s hearing over Entergy’s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent Vermont from enforcing laws that regulate nuclear power at the Vermont Yankee nuclear station in Vernon.
News editor Randolph T. Holhut contributed to this story.
Originally published in The Commons issue #110 (Wednesday, July 20, 2011).
Still, the company must weigh costs against a successful litigation and if it will earn enough of a return from its investment.
“We’ve all heard the rumors” that Entergy wants to build an escape hatch that would give the company the ability to say to shareholders, “We fought the good fight,” he said.
In Parenteau’s mind, evidence will win the day.
He also noted Entergy repeatedly signed and supported agreements with the state, except when the corporation stopped getting what it wanted — namely, the CPG.
According to Parenteau, the PG & E case — the same case that gives states the right to regulate non-radiological aspects of nuclear power — also gives companies grounds to sue if a state enacts a law that blocks a plant. Entergy did not sue Vermont in 2006 over the Legislature gaining the right to vote on the awarding of a CPG.
Murtha could say to Entergy that it contracted away its right to sue, Parenteau said.
Parenteau thinks the state’s legal team could win the case, but hopes they won’t grow overly confident. He points out that Murtha went into the case talking about merits of the case, but he flipped in his ruling, ultimately choosing to speak only of the “irreparable harm.”
“The state needs to pay attention to that,” he said.
Kreis admires all the lawyers on the Entergy v. Vermont case, adding, “This is a hard case to argue.”
Whatever the outcome, it will be because the winning side “had the better argument, not the better lawyers,” he said.
Vermont Yankee spokesperson Larry Smith said in a statement, “We appreciate Judge Murtha’s timely and thoughtful decision on an issue that is critically important to our 650 employees and for all those who live in New England, although we are disappointed in the outcome.”
Smith said Entergy’s request for a preliminary injunction “was about keeping the plant’s workers employed, the plant running safely and the electric grid reliable until this case is resolved.”
“In the upcoming days, we will be evaluating Judge Murtha’s opinion and assessing the company’s near-term options,” the company’s statement concluded.
Smith also noted plant employees “were on edge” following the judge’s ruling.
On her Yes Vermont Yankee blog, pro-nuclear advocate Meredith Angwin replied to a comment saying, “This is so depressing. I am Facebook friends with plant people. Lots of Facebook chatter from them about selling their houses.”
“Whether the judge thinks this is a mere business decision or not, irreparable harm is going to occur to this state, from this decision,” Angwin wrote.
Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.